Monday, February 15, 2010

Green Tahini (a.k.a. T'hina)

This is the way an Israeli taught me how to make it. And it's delicious.

Ingredients:

tahini / t'hina
juice of a quarter of a lemon
garlic
cilantro
salt
pepper

Directions:

1. Put a few spoonfuls of tahini in a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and stir.
2. Very slowly add cold water to the tahini, stirring madly while doing so. Stop when the tahini is creamy and still somewhat stiff. You don't want it to get too watery.
3. Add garlic and chopped cilantro.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Eat with flatbread baked with Za'atar!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ways to use Za'atar (Thyme seasoning)

"Za'atar," as I learned in the fall, is the Arabic word for "thyme," but it denotes a specific kind of wild thyme found in the general region of Palestine, perhaps Lebanon and Jordan. It's dried and mixed with salt and something else, and Palestinian mamas have their own secret recipes for it. The Israelis claim that it is endangered due to overharvesting and have banned its import/export from the West Bank; the Palestinians, however, argue that they have thousands of years of experience in sustaining its growth and harvesting carefully. Needless to say, this green stuff has become a political issue of its own. (And it's not the only food item that serves as a microcosm of Israel's conflicts with its neighbors; Israel and Lebanon bitterly compete over who produces the best hummus. Here's a little background to the controversy.)

Anyway, luckily this green stuff CAN be found in Berlin, and hopefully at Middle Eastern stores in North America as well. Here's how to use it:

A. Dip some flatbread into olive oil. Drag the bread over the Za'atar. Put in mouth.

B. Drizzle olive oil over some flatbread. Top with Za'atar. Put in the over for 5 minutes. Put in mouth! (Goes fabulously with freshly made "tahini," "tahina" in Arabic or "t'hina" in Hebrew, that has lemon juice and cilantro in it.)

C. Drizzle olive oil over fresh soft white cheese--"labneh" (Arabic) or Greek yogurt--and sprinkle Za'atar over it. Eat with bread.

Honey-roasted Sweet Potato, Petersilienwurzel and Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

3-4 TBS butter
2-3 TBS honey
juice of 1/2 a lemon
cayenne pepper

1 sweet potato
2 petersilienwurzel (= parsnip?)
bunch of brussels sprouts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F [= 5 on gas oven]

1. Melt and mix the butter, honey and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Add cayenne pepper to taste.
2. Meanwhile, cut the brussels sprouts in half, and the sweet potato and petersilienwurzel into 1 cm squares.
3. Add the vegetables to the saucepan and make sure they are covered in the honey sauce.
4. Put in a roasting pan, and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is easily poked through.
5. Serve on a bed of couscous! Or as a side dish.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Arugula Pesto

Substitute with any herb / nut for another pesto altogether.

EXAMPLES

Tunisian: cilantro, parsley and spices, called "chermoula," traditionally served with fish
Republic of Georgia: ground walnuts, dried apricots (in the form of apricot leather), garlic, cilantro, parsley and other herbs, and walnut oil. It’s served with chicken, meats, fish and vegetables, and stirred into cooked red beans.

INGREDIENTS

2 garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed

2 heaped tablespoons shelled walnuts

4 ounces arugula, stemmed, washed and dried (2 cups leaves, tightly packed)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, to taste

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. When they are chopped and adhering to the sides, stop the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the walnuts. Turn on the machine, and process until they are finely ground. Scrape down the bowl again, and add the arugula and the salt. Pulse until the arugula is finely chopped, then turn on the machine and run while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. When the mixture is smooth, stop the machine, scrape down the sides and process for another 30 seconds or so. Scrape out into the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind the mixture with the pestle for a smoother texture. Work in the cheese and combine well.

Yield: Makes about 2/3 cup.

Cabbage Rolls

Who knows whether this is the recipe my mom used in Canada: all I know is that this dish is so good it's been claimed by Sweden, Hungary, the Ukraine, Poland and the Sub-Continent of Swabia as its national dish.

**NOTE TO SELF: replace "ketchup" with tomato paste and seasoning.

1 head of cabbage

3/4 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons uncooked rice

2 onions, 1 grated and 1 sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large can tomatoes

1 large can tomato soup (or sauce)

1/2 cup brown sugar

Lemon juice to taste

About 6 ginger snaps

Noodles

Butter.

1. Boil cabbage in water about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

2. In a bowl, mix the ground beef, rice, grated onion, ketchup and egg, and season with salt and pepper.

3. In another bowl, combine canned tomatoes, tomato soup, brown sugar and lemon juice.

4. Separate cabbage leaves and roll about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the beef mixture into each leaf, tucking in the sides. If you have leftover beef, roll it into tiny meatballs.

5. Pour some of the tomato mixture into a deep pot. Crumble a handful of ginger snaps into it, then cover with a layer of rolled cabbage leaves (and tiny meatballs, if you have any), then one layer of sliced onion rings. Repeat until all cabbage rolls are used.

6. Cook on low heat, covered, about 2 1/2 hours. When nearly finished, prepare buttered noodles, and serve with stuffed cabbage.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Note: To get a second meal out of this, put a piece of chuck roast in the bottom of the pot, on top of the first layer of sauce and below the first layer of rolled cabbage.

Celery Root Risotto with Pesto

* 2 medium celery roots (celeriac) with leafy tops
* 1/4 cup olive oil


* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 1/2 cups chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
* 3/4 cup arborio or medium-grain white rice
* 3 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Place 1 1/2 cups (packed) celery root leaves and oil in mini-processor. Blend until leaves are minced. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel celery roots. Cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into enough 1/3-inch cubes to measure 2 cups. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in celery root cubes and leek. Cover; cook until celery root is tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Mix in rice; stir 1 minute. Add broth; increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender and risotto is creamy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Mix in 3/4 cup cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide risotto between bowls; swirl some pesto on top. Serve with remaining cheese and pesto.

Lemon Risotto With Brussels Sprouts

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed

Salt to taste

2 quarts well seasoned chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), green shoots removed, minced

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc

2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to the boil, salt generously and add the Brussels sprouts. Boil two minutes, then transfer to the ice water. Drain, dry on paper towels and cut in quarters.

2. Put your stock or broth into a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over low heat, with a ladle nearby or in the pot. Make sure that it is well seasoned.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet. Sear the Brussels sprouts just until beginning to brown, about three minutes, stirring and shaking the pan. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a plate or bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in the same skillet, or in a large, wide saucepan. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt, and cook gently until it is just tender, about three minutes. Do not brown. Add the rice and the garlic, and stir until the grains separate and begin to crackle. Add the wine, and stir until it has been absorbed. Begin adding the simmering stock, a couple of ladlefuls (about 1/2 cup) at a time. The stock should just cover the rice and should be bubbling, not too slowly but not too quickly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock, and continue to cook in this fashion, stirring in more stock when the rice is almost dry. You do not have to stir constantly, but stir often. After 10 minutes, stir in the Brussels sprouts. Continue adding stock and stirring. When the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, in about 25 minutes, it is done. Taste now and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add another ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and Parmesan, and remove from the heat. The mixture should be creamy (add more stock if it isn’t). Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than a mound.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 ounces American cheese or cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Salt
2/3 cup whole milk.

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside two heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Foolproof recipe. Requires a huge pot! Dipping sauce is the same as for "White Cut Chicken."

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 whole (3- to 4-pound) chicken, trimmed of excess fat

Several cloves smashed garlic, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Several slices fresh ginger, plus 1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup peanut oil, or neutral oil, like corn or canola

3 shallots, roughly chopped, or a small onion

2 cups long-grain rice

1/2 cup minced scallions

2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons sesame oil.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add chicken to pot along with smashed garlic and sliced ginger. Bird should be completely submerged, but only just. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let bird remain in water for 45 minutes to an hour, covered, or until it is cooked through.

2. Remove chicken from pot, reserve stock, and let bird cool to room temperature. Put half the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat; you may add trimmed chicken fat to this also. When oil is hot, add remaining garlic, along with shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until glossy. Add 4 cups reserved chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover; cook for about 20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all liquid. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

3. Make a dipping sauce of remaining oil, ginger, half the scallions and a large pinch of salt.

4. Shred or chop chicken, discarding skin. Put rice on a large platter and mound chicken on top of it; decorate platter with cucumbers, tomatoes, remaining scallions and cilantro. Sprinkle sesame oil over all and serve with dipping sauce.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings.

Syrian Lamb Pie

FILLING:

2 lbs. ground lamb
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 c. pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. yogurt

PUFF PASTRY:

1/2 lb. flour
4-6 oz. ice water
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 lb. sweet butter

To use: Cut off a section, roll paper thin, cut the shape needed. For lamb pies, cut 3 to 4-inch square, place 1-2 tablespoons lamb mixture on square, fold to triangle, and seal edges. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Lamb Pie

Finally found it! Using recipe for pate brisée, this time with US measurements for double crust. I personally don't think I need to pre-bake the bottom crust first.

Ingredients :

Filling:
1.5 lbs lamb meat, cut into small chunks
2 red potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 carrots, cut into small chunks
1/2 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 lemon
1 tbsp minced rosemary
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
14 oz (1 can) beef broth
Cornflour


Pie crust :
2 sticks butter (8 oz) , softened
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold water
1 egg white, beaten
1 egg yolk

Method:

Filling :
1)Marinate the lamb meat with salt, pepper, half of the minced rosemary, cumin, lemon juice and 3 tbsp cooking oil for at least 3 hours.
2)Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in pot and add in the onion and garlic. Saute for 2mins, adding a little water. Add in the remaining minced rosemary and stir to mix.
3)Add in the lamb meat and stir to coat with the onion, rosemary and garlic. Close lid and let cook for 5 mins.
4)Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Cover lid and lower the heat to medium and simmer for 35 mins.
5)Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Let simmer futher for 15 mins till both vegetable is slightly soft but not too cooked.
6)Mix 1 tbsp corn flour with 3 tbsp water and stir into the lamb mixture. When the sauce starts to thicken, turn off heat and let filling cool to room temperature. Spoon out the meat and vegetable filling from the sauce and save the sauce to make gravy.
7)To make gravy, drain the sauce from all fillings and add additional cornstarch and cook over heat to thicken the consistency.


Pie Crust :

1)Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.

2)Cut the soft butter into small chunks and using hands, rub it into the flour. Raise both hands up high during the working of the butter and flour to incorporate more air. Be sure to retain cold hands and don't over combine. Aim for Crumb texture.

3)Starting from 1 tbsp each time, add cold water to combine and gather the ingredients to a ball. The dough cannot be too dry nor too wet. Divide the dough into 2 equal size pieces and Place inside a plastic baggie and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

4)Preheat oven to 375F. Take 1 piece of the dough and Let it rest at room temperature till it is malleable and roll into a round shape to fit an 8 inch pie dish. Pierce the dough and use pie weights to bake for 10 mins. Remove pie weights and continue to bake for 15 mins. Turn off heat and let it stay in the oven for a further 5 mins. Remove and let cool on rack.

5)Spoon the cooled meat and vegetable filling into the baked pie shell. Spread out evenly.

6)Take out the remaining pie dough and let sit at room temperature till malleable. Roll out to a circle, larger than the 1st one. Brush the egg white around the rim of the bottom baked pie shell and place the new pie dough on top of the filling. Tuck in the rims to join the top and bottom of the pie shell.

7)Take the remaining egg white and mix into the egg yolk. Put aside. Let the pie rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up the upper dough.

8)Preheat oven to 425F. Brush the pie with the egg wash and bake for 25 mins. Take out and brush again with egg wash and return to oven to finish off baking for 15 mins. Turn off heat and let sit in the oven for a further 5 mins. Serve warm with gravy and salad.

Serves : 6 to 8 persons

Crab Quiche [filling]

For crust, see Spinach Quiche recipe.

For filling

* 1 (1-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, or 1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over
* 4 large eggs
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning such as Paul Prudhomme's
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 2 oz coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (1/2 cup)
* 2 oz coarsely grated Swiss cheese (1/2 cup)

* Mix together and put in crust!

Pâté in a Pastry Crust

(Pâté en Croûte)

SERVES 6 – 8

Hard-cooked eggs dress up this version of the classic French pâté in a pastry crust, a specialty of the region of Berry in central France. Serve the pâté warm or cold, accompanied by a green salad.

8 oz. smoked bacon
1 12-oz. duck breast, fat removed
2 6-oz. chicken breasts
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup Sancerre or other dry, acidic white wine
1 tsp. crushed coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. thyme leaves
1⁄4 cup chopped chervil
1⁄4 cup chopped chives
3 eggs
2 tbsp. crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup flour
1 lb. frozen puff pastry, defrosted but cold
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

1. Cut bacon, duck breast, and chicken into medium pieces. Dress with oil and wine, coating pieces well. Marinate 1 hour in a bowl in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Drain meat, discarding marinade. Put meat, coriander, nutmeg, thyme, chervil, chives, 2 of the eggs, crème fraîche, and salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped.

3. On a floured work surface, unfold cold puff pastry and cut into two rectangles. Roll both sheets of pastry into 8" × 11" shapes. Place one pastry rectangle on a nonstick baking sheet. Divide meat mixture in half and spread half on pastry. Put hard-cooked eggs in a line down middle of meat. Pat remaining meat over eggs. Pull up pastry on the sides, then completely cover with a second rectangle of pastry. Cut off excess pastry, wet edges with water, and press together. Cut a small hole in center of pâté and place a small piece of rolled parchment in it to allow steam to escape during baking. Beat remaining egg with a little water and brush wash over pâté. Cut decorative shapes out of excess pastry and press onto pâté.

4. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 350° and cook for another 20 minutes. The pâté should rest for 30 minutes before serving, so that it is firm enough to slice.

Sauce Hollandaise [for eggs, asparagus, lobster]

Uses a BLENDER! And promises to be really easy.

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

We agree with Julia Child: every good cook should know how to make all the proper sauces—including the often intimidating hollandaise—from scratch. But let's get real. When you're making hollandaise the traditional way, there's always the chance that the sauce will curdle. And if you've got a hungry crowd waiting for brunch, this may be the right occasion for a legitimate shortcut. We found her method, which she says is "within the capabilities of an 8-year-old child", to be nearly failproof and the resulting sauce just a little lighter. This shortcut is adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I (Knopf, 1961).

1/2 lb. unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
4–6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to foam, 15–20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the jar of an electric blender. Cover, and blend on high speed for 2 seconds; then, with the motor still running, gradually add melted butter in a slow, steady stream through hole in blender lid, leaving milky solids behind. Adjust seasonings.

Beurre blanc [for Lobster Soufflé]

MAKES ABOUT 1 1⁄2 CUPS

Butter is essentially a smooth mixture of fat and water. The secret to making beurre blanc is to preserve its makeup by allowing each addition of butter to melt smoothly into the sauce, as you whisk it, before adding the next piece of butter. Also, never let the sauce come to a boil once the butter is added; that will cause it to separate. Some restaurant cooks add a little heavy cream to the wine reduction before whisking in the butter, to ensure a smooth and stable sauce. This recipe is based on one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1977).

3 sticks cold unsalted butter (24 tbsp.),
cut into chunks
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper
1⁄2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Have butter ready. Bring wine and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan; add shallots, salt, and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer; cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. (There should be about 1 1⁄2 tbsp. liquid left. If reduced too far, add 1 tbsp. water to remoisten.)

2. Remove pan from heat; whisk 2 pieces of butter into the reduction. Set pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into sauce a chunk at a time, allowing each piece to melt into sauce before adding more.

3. Remove sauce from heat; whisk in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Serve with fish, poultry, or vegetables.

Lobster Soufflé

Again, from Julia Child. Click on the title of this entry for a link to the video!

JULIA CHILD’S CLASSIC CHEESE SOUFFLE
With Variations
MASTER RECIPE
This is the classic version of a cheese soufflé, adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in her book, The Way to Cook (Knopf).

SERVES 6

2 tablespoons, finely grated Parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese)
2 1/2 tablespoons, butter
3 tablespoons, flour
1 cup, hot milk
1/2 teaspoon, paprika
1/8 teaspoon, fresh-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon, salt
1/4 teaspoon, fresh ground pepper (white, if you don’t like to see dark “specs”)
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces), coarsely grated Swiss cheese


Prepare the dish: Butter the interior of a straight-sided, 1 quart baking dish (7-8 inches in diameter). Roll the grated Parmesan cheese around the dish to coat the bottom and sides.

Make a “collar” (so the soufflé can rise high above the dish). [COOK’S NOTE: If you prefer not to use a collar, simply use a slightly larger dish, so the soufflé will not rise as high and cannot spill over in baking.]. To make a collar, fold a piece of aluminum foil in half, and wrap the sheet around the circumference of the baking dish. The strip should encircle the dish, and stand about three inches taller than the top of the dish. Butter the inside of the foil strip, and secure the strip closed around the dish using a pin or paper clip.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set the oven rack just below the center of the oven.

Make the soufflé base: In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for two minutes over moderate heat – do not allow the mixture to brown. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Stir and cook slowly (mixture will boil gently) for 3 minutes – it will be very thick. Whisk in the seasonings and remove from heat. One by one, whisk in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites: In a clean mixing bowl, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater, beat the (room temperature) egg whites until stiff and shiny. The whites will form peaks when the beater is lifted. Do not overbeat – when the peaks form as described, stop beating.

Finish the soufflé mixture: Scoop about one quarter of the beaten egg whites onto the top of the base mixture, and gently stir the whites into the base. Turn the remaining beaten egg whites onto the sauce and carefully fold them into the base mixture [COOK’S NOTE: see the description of “folding” in the Glossary of Terms located at the top of the Teaching Segments page on this site – menu at left – if you need more explanation of this technique.] alternating scoops of the spatula with sprinkles of the grated Swiss cheese. [Adding the cheese this way, instead of into the white sauce base, makes a lighter result.] Spoon the soufflé mixture gently into the prepared dish.

Bake the soufflé: Set the soufflé in the preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Bake until the soufflé has puffed 2 to 3 inches over the rim of the baking dish, into the collar, and the top has browned nicely - about 25-30 minutes..

COOK’S NOTE ABOUT HOW TO DETERMINE DONENESS:
A soufflé baked in a dish should puff 2 to 3 inches over the rim, and the top should be nicely browned. The puff should hold up when you release the collar just a little bit to check – if the puff sags, rapidly refasten the collar and bake a few minutes more. If you want the puff to hold and the soufflé to stand a reasonable time, test it by plunging a skewer down into the side of the puff: if wet particles cling to it the soufflé will be creamy inside and will not hold as long as if the skewer comes out almost clean. The fateful decision is up to you.

Serve the soufflé: Remove the finished soufflé from the oven, very carefully unfasten and remove the collar, and bring the soufflé to the table. Hold the serving fork and spoon upright and back-to-back, so the soufflé may be “torn” apart as they are plunged into the center, and will not deflate much as it is served.


Variations:


Spinach or Broccoli Soufflé
After completing the white sauce, stir in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cooked chopped fresh spinach or broccoli that you have warmed in butter, with shallots and seasonings. Cut down on the grated Swiss cheese – 1/3 to 1/2 cup should be enough.

Crab, Lobster, or Shrimp Soufflé
Substitute chopped or finely diced shellfish for the vegetables in the preceding suggestion. A hollandaise sauce or a white butter sauce (beurre blanc) with tomato fondue would be attractive accompaniments.

Salmon Soufflé
Stir flaked cooked salmon or other fish, or canned salmon, into the finished white sauce. Two or three tablespoons of shallots sautéed in butter are often helpful for fish other than salmon, as well as a spoonful or two of minced fresh dill or parsley. In some instances you may wish to accompany the soufflé with a lightly cooked fresh tomato sauce, or a colorful pipérade (sautéed onions with strips of red and green peppers).

Spectacular (Easy) Presentation: Soufflé on a Platter
A soufflé does not have to be baked in a dish. Try baking it on a platter instead. Arrange mounds of creamed lobster, or crab, or poached eggs on butter-sautéed croutons, on a buttered baking and serving platter. Divide the cheese soufflé mixture in mounds over each, top with a sprinkling of grated Swiss cheese, and bake 15 minutes or so in a 425 degree oven. The mounded soufflés will puff to double and brown on top.

Julia Child's Eggplant And Cheese Quiche

Because I love my recipe for pâte brisée ... here's another quiche recipe.

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 pound firm eggplant
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots -- or
green part of scallions
1 clove garlic -- finely minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan and Swiss -- combined
1 pinch pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 partially baked 8 or 9″ pie shell
1 1/2 tablespoons butter -- cut in 1/4″ bits
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon thyme or herb mixture
3 eggs
1 pinches nutmeg
Salt to taste -- if needed

Peel eggplant and cut in 3/4 inch dice. In bowl, toss eggplant with salt and let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with towel.

In large skillet, heat 1/8 inch layer of olive oil. When very hot, but not smoking, add the eggplant. Toss and turn frequently for 4-8 minutes until tender, but not mushy, just lightly browned. Toss in the shallots or scallions and garlic, shaking pan over heat for a minute to cook them.

Turn eggplant mixture into a large sieve set over a bowl to drain off excess oil. Carefully mix the eggplant with the parsley, herbs and 1/2 the cheese. Pour over pastry shell.

In small bowl, beat together the eggs, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Salt mixture if the cooked eggplant doesn't already have enough salt. Pour this mixture over the eggplant in the pastry shell.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven about 30 minutes or until puffed and brown.

Pork and veal stuffing [for Stuffed Boneless Duck]

Have the pork, veal, and pork fat ground together finely.


2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup port, Madeira, or cognac
3/4 pound each lean pork and lean veal
1/2 pound fresh pork fat
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Big pinch ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, mashed (optional)
1. In a small skillet, melt the butter and cook the onion for 8 minutes or until it is translucent but not brown. Scrape it into a bowl.

2. Pour the port, Madeira, or cognac into the skillet and boil it down until reduced by half. Scrape it into the bowl; leave to cool.

3. Add the pork, veal, and pork fat mixture, eggs, salt, pepper, allspice, thyme, and garlic, if using. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture lightens in texture and is thoroughly blended. Saute a small spoon of the stuffing and taste it. Then beat in whatever additions you feel are necessary. It should be perfectly flavored. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,’’ Volume One.

Pate de canard en croute (if you dare) (Boned stuffed duck baked in a pastry crust)

What I want to try next--inspired by Julia Child.

PASTRY ** THIS IS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS QUICHE PASTRY, AKA PATE BRISÉE


6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 eggs
About 2/3 cup cold water
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
1. In a big bowl, place flour, salt, sugar, butter, and shortening. Rub the flour and fat together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes. Do not overdo this step as the fat will be blended more thoroughly later.

2. Add the water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. Sprinkle up to 3 tablespoons more water by droplets over any unmassed remains and add them to the main body of the dough. Press the dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pilable, not damp and sticky.

3. Place the dough on a lightly floured board. With the heel of one hand, not the palm, which is too warm, rapidly press the pastry by the two spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour, or fraisage.

4. With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough again into a mass. Knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Divide into 2 pieces - 2/3 and 1/3. Sprinkle them lightly with flour and wrap in waxed paper. Place in the freezer for 1 hour or until the dough is firm but not congealed, or refrigerate for 2 hours.

DUCK


5-pound roaster duckling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of ground allspice
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons port
2 diced canned truffles and their juice (optional)
4 cups pork and veal stuffing (see recipe)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1. Cut a deep slit down the back of the bird from the neck to the tail to expose the backbone. With a small, sharp knife, its edge always cutting against the bone, scrape and cut the flesh from the carcass bones down one side of the bird, pulling the flesh away from the carcass with your fingers as you cut. When you come to the ball joints connecting the wings and the second joints to the carcass, sever them, and continue down the carcass until you reach the ridge of the breast where skin and bone meet. You must be careful here, as the skin is thin and easily slit.

2. Repeat the same operation on the other side of the bird. By the time you have completed half of this, the carcass frame, dangling legs, wings, and skin will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion, and you will wonder how in the world any sense can be made of it at all. But just continue cutting against the bone, and not slitting any skin, and all will come out as it should. When you finally arrive at the ridge of the breastbone on this opposite side, stop again. Lift the carcass frame and cut very closely against the ridge of the breastbone to free the carcass, but not to slit the thin skin covering the breastbone. Chop off the wings at the elbows, to leave just the upper wing bones attached.

3. Arrange this mass of skin and flesh on a board, flesh side up. You will now see, protruding from the flesh, the pair of ball joints of the wings and of the two second joints. Scrape the meat from the bones of the wings and pull out the bones. Repeat for the second joints, severing them from the ball joints of the drumsticks; the drumstick bones may be left in place if you wish. Discard any bits of fat adhering to the flesh.

4. Slice off the thickest layers of the breast and thigh meat, and cut into 3/8-inch cubes. Place them in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, cognac, pork, and the truffles and their juice, if using. Roll up the duck, place it in a bowl, and refrigerate.

5. Add the pork and veal stuffing to the duck meat.

6. Spread the boned duck on a board, skin-side down. Heap the stuffing in the center and shape it into a loaf. Bring the duck skin up over the loaf to enclose it completely. Sew it in place with a trussing needle and white string. Make 3 or 4 ties around the circumference of the duck to give it a cylindrical shape.

7. In a large skillet, heat the oil until it is almost smoking. Brown the duck slowly on all sides. Remove and leave to cool. The trussing strings remain on the duck to hold its shape while baking.

ASSEMBLY


Flour (for sprinkling)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. Roll out 2/3 of the dough into a 1/8-inch thick oval. Lay it on the baking sheet. Place the duck on the oval, breast up. Bring the pastry up and around the duck, patting it into place. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut it into an oval to fit over the top of the duck. Paint the edges of the bottom pastry oval with the beaten egg. Press the top oval in place. Flute or pinch the edges together to seal them.

3. Using the remaining pastry, make circles or ovals with a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Press fan-shaped lines into them with the back of a knife. Paint the top pastry with beaten egg and press the pastry cut-outs over it in a decorative pattern. Paint with beaten egg.

4. Make a 1/8-inch hole in the center of the pastry and insert a brown paper or foil funnel; this will allow steam to escape.

5. Place the duck in the middle of the oven. Turn the oven heat down to 350 degrees. Bake the duck for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted through the funnel registers 180 degrees.

6. Remove the duck from the oven and leave to cool for several hours, then chill.

7. Cut around the top crust just under the seam of the pastry oval. Lift off the oval carefully so as not to break it. The duck will have shrunk from the crust during baking, so you can lift it out of the bottom crust. Remove the circular trussing strings from around the duck, then cut and pull out the sewing strings underneath the duck. Put the duck back into the bottom crust and replace the top pastry oval. At the table, either remove the duck from the crust and carve it or cut straight down through the crust and through the duck, making crosswise slices of duck with crust. Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,’’ Volume One.